Kota Kinabalu is the capital of the Sabah state in Northern Borneo. It’s a popular stop for most
visitors to the region and is well known both for its beautiful beaches and bustling markets.
Whether you’re visiting en route to the Kinabalu National Park, or exploring the wealth of culture
that’s on offer in the city itself, food will surely be on your mind. So we look at the top places to eat
in Kota Kinabalu.
What cuisine is available?
Food here in Kota Kinabalu reflects a meeting of cultures. With influences across the East making
up more traditional Malaysian cuisine, Kota Kinabalu eateries include an East meets West fusion
too. Not forgetting the burger and chicken wing fast food outlets. So the short answer to what
cuisine is available in Kota Kinabalu is everything! The local dishes have evolved to make the most
of natural provisions. Not only this, but the presentation is often beautiful, with carved crudities and
edible flowers. Since Kota Kinabalu is a coastal city, seafood is a predominant ingredient.
Kota Kinabalu isn’t short of options when it comes to traditional local cuisine. For a relaxed and
friendly atmosphere, Little Sulap Cafe is the place to go. Inspired by recipes passed down through
generations, the menu here is authentically Sabahan. Restaurant Sin Kee specialises in
traditional dish Bah Kut Teh. This broth made up of pork ribs and herbs is so popular that
customers are spilling out onto the streets here. If you’re looking for something a little more refined,
Latest Recipe at Le Meridien highlights local Sabahan dishes alongside European options.
South Indian influenced banana leaf curry is popular across Kota Kinabalu. Visit Sri Latha Curry
House for recommended leaf rice sets. Available at lunch time, you’ll be served rice with an
assortment of chutneys on a banana leaf. Add your choice of a selection of curries and it’s
impossible to leave hungry. Jothy’s Fish Head Curry and Banana Leaf Restaurant is a popular
destination for a similar experience, and is open through the evening as well as during the day.
Head to Kedai Kopi Yee Fung if laksa curry soup is up your street. There are often queues here, a
testament to the tastiness of the Sabah style laksa fare.
Kedai Makan is a popular destination for its traditional Roti. This flat bred is often served with lentil
soup or curry and vegetables on top then a fried egg to finish. This combination will fill you up for
the day at a very reasonable price! Alu Alu Kitchen has a Chinese inspired menu designed to
share, so offers great value for groups and cheaper than advertised prices for solo travellers. Not
only this, but the restaurant has a sustainable and organic ethos that makes it noteworthy.
Serving both vegetarian and vegan options, Vege Garden is recommended for both its breadth of
menu and value for money. There’s a changing selection of vegetarian and vegan options to
accompany a choice of white or brown rice. Not only this, but the service is so friendly that people
head here for advice as much as cuisine!
As a coastal city, seafood is hugely popular in Kota Kinabalu. This means that there are boundless
opportunities to taste seafood delicacies. The Kota Kinabalu Night Market offers many different
street food stalls, but seafood is predominant here. Visit to browse for fresh ingredients and
authentic cooked street food, but most of all for the bustling atmosphere and experience. Choose
freshly caught seafood direct from a tank at the Welcome Seafood Restaurant, and then select
the cooking style. This place is famous among locals and, as the fish is priced per kilo according to
its variety and availability, there’s always something for every budget.
Breakfast The most important meal to set you up for a busy day, most of the eateries we’ve mentioned do
great breakfasts. However, one of the most popular destinations for this meal is Ming Ge Cafe.
The hand made noodles and signature sauces are a delicious way to start the day, and the friendly
staff are keen to guide and recommend combinations for you.
Although at the Biru Biru Cafe you can enjoy recommended savoury dishes such as poke bowls
and quesadillas, it is well known for its desert options. Choose from different flavoured waffles with
a side of coocnut ice cream and homemade custard. Then at night, the cafe transforms into a bar
serving cocktails and punch. The Royal Coconut is the place to go for spectacular coconut
deserts served every way imaginable. Try traditional coconut pudding and coconut pandan shakes,
which come with a scoop of coconut ice cream.
Head to Laundroluxe for a mix of European and Asian dishes. Here you can order anything from
stir fried noodles to spaghetti bolognese. But food isn’t the only fusion here. As the name suggests,
not only can you enjoy prize winning dinner service, but you can also do your laundry! A similarly
multi functional destination is the Print Cafe, where you can have a coffee and also get your
Our recommendations aren’t exhaustive, as Kota Kinabalu is full of hidden gems and new eateries
pop up all the time. So when you arrive in the city, your best Kota Kinabalu food guides will be the
locals themselves. Chat to your tour guides and ask for personal recommendations. Fellow
travellers will have some great tips too. Everyone